Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Hungry Ghosts

New Suicide Squad #17 $2.99

So liked the recent trailer and want more or perhaps you fondly recall the original Suicide Squad by John Ostrander and have not really looked at the recent run much at all or like me are a bit of both I can say this is all round a pretty solid place to look. Tim Seeley who's written some pretty good off beat superhero stories among other things does a brilliant job of capturing the old darkly sarcastic tone of the book and sets up a framing sequence that links this story to the recent arcs from the book and allows a bit of introduction to new readers alike. Juan Ferreya who's been on the book a wile has a great grasp of the characters does some pretty fun things with the page layouts and given he's handling the coloring too it's got a very painterly look to it without losing any sense of action. As with the trailer that makes me so hopefull for the movie Tim and Juan hit real solid character beats as even if their appearance is a cameo and given the size of the cast and the page limit I'm impressed with how much I liked the issue.

I really liked the set up of the story Tim choose; its cynical in the style of the old book and posits that the UK government has too cottoned to the idea of coercing its meta human criminals into a black ops sort of force given something awful may have happened to some of its heroes. A pencil pusher is sent to get some pointers from Waller and is given a tour and a taste of what the Task Force X program is like and makes a point about how she is able to run it that is sharply socially relevant. He gives us a character intro montage allowing Harley to be creepy, cute and threatening, El Diablo to be broody, Deadshot to be well Deadshot and gives us other fun characterful bits clue in new readers. The remainder of the plot is an uncharacteristic mission were as with all good plots things go awry and point us towards the next issue.

Juan Ferreya is a name I was unfamiliar with but I will for sure be watching for it's I quite like his art. He has a deft hand for capturing expression and communicating emotion in his characters faces: the glee and childlike delight of Ms. Quinn, the malice from Amanda Waller, the fury and hunger of the Cheetah, the indignation of Cap'tn Boomerang, brooding and resignation. Juan is obviously a practiced artist and quite talented as his use of shadow and highlight particularly in the mission to China and the festival of the Hungry Ghosts it quite stunning. Sometimes reading comics you should showdown and get stuck in looking just at the art because in books like this it's worth it. I forget to do that occasionally but reviewing this I went back and wow so glad I did as the more I look the more I find to appreciate in this books artwork. His work also has so,e hints of pop art playfulness about particularly with action as well I won't ruin it but there is a marvelous piece of fun sequential storytelling that fills a two page spread. Writing about it makes me appreciate the work all the more.

Ok enough gushing about it... I'm figuring you get the picture I dug the issue. It's fulfilled more then any expectations I had going in and more. Tim Seeley, who's Sundowners I particularly lived for its weird-fiction-ness, and Juan did a particularly good job of reminding me why I loved the Suicide Squad back in the Ostrander days and why the trailer makes me hopefull. It captured the punchyness of the trailer and the reminiscence I have of the old book but is full on its own thing and I can only hope that they have a bit of time on the book or that the time they have is all this good. Recommended buy (if it seems your kind of thing and though I should not I'm adding it to my pile this week)

( .... Or the full title Hungry Ghosts or how I learned to stop worrying and love the new Suicide Squad)


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Dead-Woods Best Comics of 2014

2014 has been a great year for me for comics and most of the books below have at one time or another been my choice for best of the year so for one reason or another they are all in my opinion worth at least a look...

And I'll start with comics I bought based solely on blogposts I found and if I can credit the source....(but most are left totally in the rabbit hole of Internet limbo but I thank them none the less....)

Best book I bought because of someone's blog post about them...

1. Hexed

As both a Lovecraft and urban fantasy fan I have to say that Hexed seems to be the book I didn't know I would love and I so would like to thank the blog that got me to take a look at it.... if only I could recall which it was. This isn't the first time astory following the advetures of a character named Lucifer (Lucy Jennifer) is the one that without fail,is the among the best of my monthly books. Art that is very much of the style and dynamism of manga yet managing to remain hard to pin down who's art it lookes like but its oh so petty. The cast like many of my favorites is mainly feminine and unlike other urban fantasies they aren't so much the "chosen" one but are special because of who they are and what they bring to the table. The story is all caper tale with the stakes being so much more than money. If the description and the art hook you its great stuff and that's why I put it up first.


Superheroes from Dark Horse are an on again off again thing for me, they really are either my bag like last years Caralyst Comics or the pulp story I will have to pick up called Captain Midnight or something like Ghost that I really want to dig but never manages to really hook me. Sundowners is a psychological horror story that features a superhero support group and for did make me wonder if the "heros" were just mentally cracked and there was little other really going on. Tim Seeley has endeared his characters to me no matter their sanity or lack there of and stories like this that make me doubt the reliability of the narrator appeal to both in fiction and in sequential art. The extraordinary extraterrestrial threat in Sundowners is one that only some people can see and to me is reminiscent to me of the old movie They Live! and Slither



This was a title that almost passed me by and been a part of the next category but due to the comments on Multiversity Comics and CBR (Comic Book Resources) I went and grabbed up the second printing of issue one and as happy to have given it a go. Its a story that has a great deal in common with the portal fantasy stories I recall from childhood like Alice in Wonderland, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and the Wizard of Oz but by way of Indiana Jones. Joe Keating who totally charmed me with his take on the iconic female hero in Glory is at it again telling more great stories. Based ion how much I'm enjoying this many layered adult take on fantasy I'm likely to be picking up his book Techjacket next... Oh woe s my budget.... The big bonus now is that the first collected volume just came out and its oh so nice to look at it sould be on your post Christmas list. Joe spends time making all his characters wether walk ons or regulars fully conceived no matter the fates that befall them. Recommend unreservedly.



Best books of 2013 I'm so glad I revisited....

East of West

Honestly I do not know why I stopped this three issues into the series given now that I go back to reread them. Hickman and Dragotta's apocalyptic western future is just the kind of blend of weird and scienc fiction that is right up my alley.min the last year it's been revealed what the emnity between Death and the other three horsemen of the apocalypse; the tensions between the fractured american landscape have grown and through economic collapse, treachery and assassination the stage has been set for next years march towards war. What was wrong with me this is pretty much everything I look for in a comic when its not superheroes also its got two great secondary characters in Crow and Wolf who are undeniably cool. Death has suffered a good deal in the last year and there is like to be hell to pay. Issue 16 hits the stands on Dec 31 and here's hoping my FLCS got some of the alternate covers....

Manifest Destiny

Issue 12 in particular was pretty marvelous in how it presented the Indian nations. I loved the dichotomy presented by the art and the third person text boxes. This is american history as twisted by the existence of weird gates and lesser gods across the countryside, gates the natives avoid for good reason. Manifest Destiny presents characters as very believe able people with all their sloth, greed, arrogance and bloody minded vengence. This one issue I can say hooked me and makes this series a must have so I'm guessing that makes it a winner in more ways then one. This is the story of Lewis and Clark twisted by the influence of Lovecraft like horrors and the like. If anything this is a great companion title to East of West given that both have a skeptical view of western, read white, society and its supremacy. Anyone who is enjoying the show Sleepy Hollow would most like feel at home in with books. I for one have to catch up on Manifest Destiny and want to spread the word its pretty damn good.



Best just started book I expect to top lists next year or even this one....

Bitch Planet

Yes totally this title, Kelly Sue Deconnick surely is among my favorite authors this last couple years with Captain Marvel and Pretty Deadly and now the very strongly opinionated title Bitch Planet. Kelly Sue's advisors in the story she's telling should get at least part of the credit because they are steering her to the more real choices in the storytelling and will create a more challenging book because of it. The cast of this book looks very little like any of the other female centric books out there and I for one look forward to more from this book and to the back up articles like the one that graced issue one. Great book. Be non compliant.


Matt Fraction is someone I so miss from his marvel titles but I'm ever so happy for titles like this that push boundaries in storytelling. This book takes much from the classical tale of Odysseus including some of the storytelling structure bring them into a different medium and a new audience hopefully or in a new way. Like one of my other favorite books this year the title requires more attention and participation from the reader and that is a great thing because it moved the medium to somewhere new. I'm a fan of classical stories like the Illiad , the odyssey, Grendel and the epic of Gilgamesh and I dare anyone to pick up this and see that crazy gatefold panel and pick this genre mashup up for it. Also love the gender swapping of the characters and the mythology that grew out of that storytelling choice.




Best impulse buy


Weird gods an demons, giant swords and working class heroes in the modern post apocalyptic looking Detroit I have to say what is there not to love about this horror title with a sense of humor. John Arcudi who's been writing BPRD seemingly forever is stretching his legs here and the first issue was possibly my best choice for an impulse buy in the last year other then the odd issue of Nova or Deadpool. Dark alleys, desolate cityscapes, desperate looking people and a sword wielding dark scarecrow god wandering the panels all this and a fun bit of storytelling we seem to be getting here and I have to say what the hell is not to love about it.






Best Laugh of the year

Rocket Racoon 5

This issue, this issue. In particular had me laughing, laughing out loud from about the third page right up till the final panel. I've liked the book well enough because its been giving me Rocket and a few well placed giggles over the year but this issue beat all the laughs I got from Captain Marvel, Ms Marvel, and Secret Avengers over the year. Sure the laughs wee from the gimmick that drove the issue but Scotty Young and crew embraced the one trick pony and rode it for all it was worth, and it still made me laugh the second time around. Totally the best bang for my comic Buck that week. This more then any other Guardians or Rocket Racoon issue captured the joy of the movie for me. Excelsior.



Book that has given me the most chills up my spine

Thor 1-2

There have been several books that have been thrilling over the last year including several issues of Original Sin which I particularly liked but in terms of physical reaction to a story or in actuality a single panel its by far got to be Thor. The final frame in both issue one and two both drawn by Dauterman written by Aaron left me with a lighting like tingle up my spine and the last time I recall Thor causing that was way back in the Walt Simonson days. Don't get me wrong I loved the last volume its just this one has me hooked and I won't be skipping an issue of it.


And till tomorrow I'm going to leave my list at that... I need more time to think about what book, writer and artist I would pick or even if I can pick... So it may be more fun comments then on New Year's Day ... And I'll leave you with one of the best pieces of cover art....




Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Dec 24th Dead Wood Pull Sheet....


Grindhouse Vol 2 #2

Alex De Campi's irreverent horror exploitation title to me is the modern inheritor of the tradition of Tales from the Crypt, Vault of Horror, House is Secrets/House of Mystery and like anthology titles. She's giving us two to three issue story arcs and apparently will be revisiting past stories like the original killer bee influenced invasion tale. The art talent Dark Horse is investing in this book is pretty exceptional too. I personally love the fact were getting a suspense book called Slay Ride just in time for the big holiday. To me the first issue of this reminded me of Stephen King in a very good was with that kind of creeping dread. You know if this souds like your kind of thing. $3.99

Resurrectionists #3

Fred van Lente apparently has a great love of historical fiction and this story of serial reincarnation involing the classics heist plot elements started out strong. When one of the people in this world recall their past lives they get acces to more then just the memories but all their developed skills so though not superhuman these people have the accumulated experience of lifetimes. Loss is the core of the story for the main character come to the knowledge of the loss he suffered far in the Egyptian past and his repeated encounters with the woman he was married to and lost so long back. That said its more Italian Job then romantic drama or comedy and I have great hopes for complexity and feeling for the book. $3.50





They're Not Like Us #1

When it comes to new titles from the big two companies you can be pretty sure as to the kind of book your getting give or take a few here and there. From Image its sometimes predictable and other times not but its always interesting (I'm looking at you Rumble). This book looks to be something about how the new generation are not at all like the old one. I recall the writers name Eric Stephenson but I can't recall where and the art looks pretty good and given its fromSkybound which has yet to dissappoint me well I'll be trying this $2.99 title... Oh and if your not reading Manifest Destiny you are so kissing out on some good seditious storytelling.

Captain Amwrica and the Mighty Avengers #3

I'm not really happy with Axis, I love the exploration of the morals that villains really do sometimes have and like to see their hidden depths but somehow seeing the bad in the heroes just isn't... Well just isn't. This book is the one of the two Avengers titles that I do make an effort to get all of since Al Ewing has such a great way with character and story no matter what is intruding editorially into his story. I'm looking forward to the fight here since its like to be hilarious at times. Oh and the Blue Marvel is one of the characters I'm so glad to have encountered... $3.99


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Judas Contact...


I loved the old Marv Wolfman George Perez new Teen Titans from the eighties when I was a teenager their book in my memory is brighter then the Claremont/Cockrum/Smith Uncanny Xmen so this new interpretation I had to read. Jeff Lemire has a great repututaion and has written some books I have enjoyed including the new 52 title Frankenstien and the Agents of SHADE which was my favorite of any of the initial offerings given the Dodson's did the art my expectations were pretty high. Overall I dug this book which strikes me more as the beginning of something rather then a full ing in and of itself. Jeff sets up three story arcs and hints at several more within the pages of this but only pays off on one of the promises he makes. As an old time fan I have to give Jeff and Terry kudos for making me not notice the characters they chose not to include by getting me fully investing in the handful the do use; Victor Stone, Tarra Markov, Garlfield Logan, Joseph Wilson Raven and the mysterious alien Starfire.


Though I can not say for sure how more recent fans of the Titans might feel about this book I can say that for an old fan the re visioning works pretty well. Jeff has clearly defined personalities for these characters and reveals them clearly over the corse of the story, the rebellious angry young girl, the underachieving son of the successful mom, the precocious smart caring son of a different family, the respectful girl raised by her grandparent, the disaffected loner and the terrifies outsider looking for help. Jeff know his DC and Teen Titans history; you can tell from the Easter eggs throughout the book for long time fans like me.and much like the amazing Guardians of the Galaxy film last summer they were winks to fans more then integral parts of the story. This book stands well on its own I believe having gone back to read it several times. Its a solid teenage hero tale that spins out of the feeling most teens have of disassociation with their parents and finding a place where they belong among people like them seen throught the lens of the superhero origin story. If anything the end comes all too soon leaving what seems to me the most interesting part for the future volumes. Fans of the marvel series Runaways would likely find the book happily familiar both with the characterful writing that keeps you engaged and with the clean and well thought out art choices.

Terry and Rachel Dodson pull from several styles in creating the overall look of this book. I think given one of the entryways into the Teen Titans comes from the animated series's that have been around its no wonder that the style they chose has hints of animation influence; Joseph Wilson's design looks almost pulled from Japanese animation particularly his profile at times and Tara Markov could easily at times have been drawn by Adam Warren who first adapted the Dirty Pair for US comic audiences. The color palet that they cose to work with also has more of the vibrancy that I associate with animation and doesn't go in for lots of the dark and more stark contrasts that I feel are being I used more in the "grittier" and grimmer comics DC seems to put out lately. This book looks more in line with the Batgirl with art by Babs Tarr and Cameron Stewart the it does with sat Batman or Superman right now. Anyone who likes comics that straddle that style line between American comics and Japanese manga and animation should likely enjoy the look of this.

Teen Titans: Earth One may not hit everyone the way it did me. Jeff Lemire really hit it right in my opinion in terms of taking a classic comic story I loved, The Judas Contract by Wolfman and Perez, character that I fondly remember and rich comic history and revisited with a lot of love and respect. He changed things yes, it's not the same story and people looking for that will be missing out on what he did write. I think this will play well for most old fans with open minds and hefully just create some new ones I'd expect people who loved the Runaways from marvel or who are now enjoying coming of age hero tales like Nova and Ms.Marvel are just the right new audience for this.

Is it a five for five shots that is for you to decide but it hit much more then not for me... Worth the money in my opinion. Out today Nov 19th at your local friendly comic stores....

Ps among the best bits in this for me were the seen a new cool take on Raven and getting Cyborg back where he belongs with his friends.


Friday, November 7, 2014


So I'm pretty surprised with how much people loved Rocket and Groot in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie that no one seems to be talking about the Scotty Young Rocket comic book and particularly this issue. Very few comics these days make me laugh out loud as much as this single issue did, sure it was a gimmicky issue, they can only really do this once and get away with it but this was worth four dollars for all the honest laughter it brought me. Sometimes comics should just be funny; I needed a break from all the not so great news of this week in particular and well this twenty some odd pages did the trick for me. Will this issue be a big piece of continuity, will it be relevant in ten or seventy five years well who knows but it was damned funny and gave me a great amount of joy for the visual jokes and storytelling and yeah it gave me the Rocket and Groot I really wanted. Great work. If you need some levity this is the Racoon and tree your looking for. Five stars if you need a rating....


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Quinnzilla In the City....

Putting aside all the controversy that proceeded this title Amanda Conner Jimmy Palomotti new artist Chad Hardin and Stephanie Roux are making a quality laugh worthy dark minded and light hearted book. This collections is two hundred twenty five pages of beautiful detailed and colorfully writes comedic superhero satire tha stands well alongside titles like the old Giffen and Bisley Lobo and More recent Deadpool titles. Palomotti and Conner succeed in taking the spirit of Harley Quinn created for the animated Batman series by Bruce Timm and fitting her into the new 52 in a way that works for me. Without the imposition of cartoon physics this leads to a title that tends towards lots of blood and black humor (again see comparisons above) the book tends towards lots of innuendo, implied um..situations, breaking down of the fourth wall as the authors become part of the story. Harley Quinn is possible not a comic for everyone with its sarcastic national lampoonish nature but in a place as grim as the new 52 a little levity is a great thing as is this book.

Harly Quinn as people who recall the old Batman tv animation was created to be the partner and foil for the Joker and made a slow successful transition to part of continuity through first the Batman Adventures title and her pairing with Poison Ivy in Gotham Sirens. In the New 52 she has been one of the members of the Suicide Squad separated for her Mr. J. And I can say I have sadly no experience with that title. ( I was a fan of the original Suicide Squad by the great John Ostrander and well nothing has ever measured up to the series to my memory but ta is not a review of S.S. So...). As I said above this title and its writers deftly captured the demented yet innocent nature of Ms Quinzel; I. The course of this collection she becomes the target of assassins looking to collect on a contract, she becomes the savior of animals destined for the needle, takes possession of a building ala Fraction's Hawkeye title becoming their landlord/neighbor/protector. Conner and Palomotti show her actuall responsible side in her search for gainful employment and her doctorish side in the patients the come into her care to balance all the casual mahem and violence the is the rest of her life. They also play with the relationship she has with Posion Ivy and develope an extended cast through the freakshow (a literal one that inhabit the building now hers) and the aforementioned patients. For a comedic title the writers do touch on some very real issues and do so with some care even if they take things to the edge of good taste.

In terms of art this is one of the nicer looking books out there between the clean and clear pencils and the amazing pallet of colors used by Alex Sinclair. The the first issue, which I cannot recall if it was a zero issue or not, we got treated to a page a piece of art from so many great artists I am sorry now that I passed it up when I could have gotten it and the clear and loving treatment given the rest of the issues by the team of Chad Hardin and Stephanie Roux make me glad I now have the chance to get them in this volume. Though not the most PC of titles art wise given the T and A quotient the exploitation of the human form is pretty even handed between cheesecake and beefcake here so if it would bug you either way this may not be a title for you. The violence in this book may be written as tongue in cheek but the art tends towards realism with the bodies much like most of the police procedurals on tv and there is even a ________in refrigerators moment. The really nice Easter egg included in this volume are reproductions of the roughs pencils and inks of some of the pages and seeing these makes the collection of more interest to me as I want to draw myself and that kind of thing is invaluable insight. Chad and Stephanie also put a great deal of details into their work, the backgrounds are particularly rich and the attention to detail and continuity was particularly good because when they broke out of it for comedic effect it was pretty obvious. Even is this title was not as well written as it is the character and skill of the art alone would make it worth a look.

Harly Quinnis a book that is a lot of fun and its far enough outside the regular continuity at lest in this initial volume that its solid enough a book to stand on its own. It takes a character that has not had her own title in the past and allows her to be the focus on her own. Jimmy and Amanda have given her her own place and background cast and managed to only reference the Bat and Mr. J sparingly which I think is a great plus. She now has responcibilites again having become a therapist and a landlord and though this is a title mainly played for laughs and over the top violence its adding to her overall story too. Its a book that actually makes me smile and laugh and that something good to find even it is doing it sometimes through bad jokes and innuendo. For an author known mainly for a couple of western comics and another known mainly as a kinda cheesecake artist they are turning out some great fun here and I'm sorry I was paying more attention to the controversy then to the product when it started. Recommended for more then just the obvious laughs and pretty art.

The thing that manages to overcome the graphic violence and sexually exploitive art (pretty though it is) is the truly charming writing that Palomotti and Conner do that convinced me that Ms Quinn has an childlike innocence at heart despite her violent tendencies. Like Deadpool and the original Lobo title this one relays on cartoon physics at time but given its a superhero comic were almost there to being with... hmmm mayhaps there could be Captain Carrot appearance after the Power Girl one that is just about to happen....

Recommended out Oct 28 2014





Saturday, October 11, 2014

Detective Comics


Given I have not been the biggest fan of the New 52 version of the DC universe I have to say this Scott Snyder Greg Capullo story is pretty damned solid and actually accessible even is you have not read much of the last twenty some odd issues. Though already in print for months at this point but its currently timely since the Gotham television show has just started and it covers some of the same time period of Jim Gordon's early career and his meeting with the young Bruce Wayne. The art by the veteran superhero noir artist Greg Capullo, who's work with both Spawn and Sam and Twich from back in the nineties was good has developed into a very tight defined and detailed realistic style. This story plunges the people of Gotham into a escape from New York short of closed off primative island setting kept in the dark and secluded by the machinations of the Riddler who's got a point to prove. Scott gets to develope the characters of Jim Gordon and Lucius Fox more then they have been in the past and they kind of shine through more then the titular character who's best story moments for me happen I the flashbacks. All in all I actually feel I can reccommend this for superhero fans who have been wanting to read Batman but don't want to feel like they are stuck in the crossover nightmare of multiple titles to read.

Zero Year jumps back and forth between several time periods including the events that lead up to the shooting of the Wayne's, Bruce's development after that shocking event, Batmans early relationship with the Gotham PD and Gordon and finally the Riddler's abduction of the city of Gotham to force evolution. The volume opens with a scene where Batman deftly evades the then mostly corrupt Gotham PD and has a truly contentious encounter with Gordon. Over the corse of the stories we get to see the development of their grudging mutual respect and Snyder takes opportunity to flesh out the early career of for the future comissioner and how he got wise of the corruption around him. He also writes about the pre- and post- murder Bruce and touches on his young adulthood a bit in enlightening ways. In the zero-year story involving the Riddler we get to see Lucius Fox in light of his career as an inventor and read a pretty disturbing serial killer tale that is worthy of the bizarre antagonists that Batman is known to face. Though these are in essence ret-con events they do fit into the story and build on the legend. In the full course of the story we get to see Batman come into being the hero he will someday become, one who is driven to win eventhough failure and loss may be on the road to winning. All the players big and small from the Bat-mythos get their moment to shine in Zero-Year and the story elevates the Riddler to more then just a bit part villain in the same way that Avengers Arena elevated Arcade from a joke to a threat.

Greg Capullo has come a long way since he was the replacement for Todd Mcfarlane on Spawn and the main artist for the titles spun out of that one of the first Image comics. His line work has become much cleaner and tighter and he has become very adapt at displaying emotion without ending up in the realm of caricature where some artists out of the 90s can tend to go. Probably some of the most startlingly good work in this book are the distance shots and cityscapes he draws; he effectively creates the moods and atmosphere of post apocalyptic setting among the skyscrapers and buildings of Gotham City. He and the colonists have created a very pretty book about some very ugly things that really left me wanting more. His Bruce Wayne looks much less weathered then he does in the modern storyline and give we are seeing hi at the outset of his career and as with the story its a worthy addition to the story.

So if your like me and have fond memories of reading Batman in the past but have not really been captured by some of the stories in the New 52 this may be one to check out because its not weighed down be missing chapters published in other volumes and you don't really even need to read Zero Year part one to really get stuck in. I don't know if I'll be back for the next volume but after checking this out I can reccomend it for multiple reasons and I like it enough to say I will be checking into the book from time to time. Strong enough a tale to drive away the bad taste some of the new Bat-Family titles have left in my mouth recently.

Release Oct 15 2014 in Hardcover